About 100 Capitol Hill residents, joined by City Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Sixth), gathered outside the former Ninth Police Precinct building last night to protest the planned transfer of D.C. Jail inmates there.
The protest began about 8:30 p.m. in front of the building at 525 Ninth St. NE after Winter and a Corrections official had addressed an angry group of area residents at an earlier meeting.
Corrections Director James F. Palmer said Friday that the precinct building would be used to house at least 50 minimum security inmates to alleviate overcrowding in the D.C. Jail and to prevent violation of the court-imposed ceiling of 1,694 inmates housed at the jail.
Winter said last night that "a rumor" that inmates would be bused to the facility this morning after 4 a.m., the time of the jail's official count, spurred the protest.
Neighbors first learned of the decision to use the precinct house to house inmates after seeing newspaper and television reports on Friday, they said.
It was then that last night's initial meeting was organized and efforts to seek a court order restraining use of the facility as intended by corrections officials, residents said.
"What I'm opposed to is not the institution itself . . . [but] putting it in without letting us know," said Bob Granger, 29, a resident of a building abutting the precinct house.
Gary Walton, 33, a writer and professor at George Washington University, said, "We're being used." He said Mayor Marion Barry had "abridged all zoning laws [and other regulations] just to get the prisoners in here."
Winter said there are eight city- and community-run facilities, including homeless shelters and a home for runaway youths within an eight-block radius of the precinct house. She noted that her ward includes the D.C. Jail and the Anacostia shelter run by the D.C. Coalition for the Homeless, and she hinted that Barry has been dumping his administration's problems in her ward.
Winter told the crowd that attempts to get the mayor to speak to it were not fruitful, but said she had garnered a promise from Palmer that he would notify her before any inmates were moved to the facility.